When Your Faith is Under Fire: Part I – Prayer
“10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”
The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.
13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” Daniel 6:10-13 NIV
The great preacher Charles Spurgeon made an observation about this passage that is true and very convicting.
“Suppose the law of the land were proclaimed, ‘No man shall pray during the remainder of this month, on pain of being cast into a den of lions,’ – how many of you would pray? I think there would be rather a scanty number at the prayer-meeting. Not but what the attendance at prayer-meetings is scanty enough now! but if there were the penalty of being cast into a den of lions, I am afraid the prayer-meeting would be postponed for a month, owing to pressing business, and manifold engagements of one kind and another.”
Prayer is not the most sought after practice today… and it’s legal! What would happen if the government made it illegal to pray… not only illegal to pray, but punishable by death… not only death, but by being fed to hungry lions? Would we continue to pray? Would we continue to seek God? Would we continue to be bold in our faith? Amazing! Daniel would rather choose to be eaten by lions than to miss one prayer meeting! He sure puts my faith to shame! How about you?
Here are two lessons we can learn from the life of Daniel about what to do when facing persecution.
How to Respond when Facing Persecution
1 – Keep turning to God in prayer
In 2 Chronicles, when Solomon dedicated the Temple, he gave a powerful prayer of blessing over the people and the Temple.
“Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 15 You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.
16 “Now, Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me according to my law, as you have done.’ 17 And now, Lord, the God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David come true.
18 “But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 19 Yet, Lord my God, give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence. 20 May your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, this place of which you said you would put your Name there. May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 21 Hear the supplications of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive.” 2 Chronicles 6:14:21 NIV (emphasis mine)
Here is the key verse that points out the importance of turning toward
Jerusalem to pray.
“May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 21 Hear the supplications of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive.” 2 Chronicles 6:20-21 NIV (emphasis mine)
This is why Jews continue to go to Western Wall today. They turn toward Jerusalem to pray toward the temple like Solomon said.
Daniel may have been taken captive in Babylon, but he was faithful to turn toward Jerusalem in prayer so God would hear from Heaven and forgive His people. Although he was captive in a foreign land, Daniel still turned to Jerusalem three times a day and prayed for the people and the nation. Daniel still had a peace in his heart. He remained faithful in prayer. We should even recognize that this was NOT a prayer of desperation, but of discipline. He didn’t pray as a result of problems (although that would not be wrong), he was praying because it was his practice.
Do you pray only when there are problems or do you pray as a practice? How are you doing turning to God in prayer? Are you doing remaining faithful to turn to God in prayer? Be encouraged by Daniel to keep turning to God in prayer. Keep pursuing the Father’s heart. Keep seeking Jesus. Keep pressing into the Holy Spirit.
2 – Keep your window open
Even though Daniel was fully aware and had knowledge that it was illegal to pray and he could be punished by death. He went to his house, prayed, and his window opened toward Jerusalem as was his custom.
It is interesting. He didn’t close the window. He didn’t hide. I think we as believers today are too quick to “close our windows.” We have come to learn from our culture the idea of keeping our faith “personal.” We know what it means to pray in private and live our faith outside of the public eye. When Daniel’s accusers came looking for him, they found Daniel praying and making supplications before the Lord as was his custom. Not only did Daniel keep turning to God in prayer, but he didn’t bother to hide anything. Are you still praying with your window open?
As a follower of Jesus Christ, are you keeping your window open? Are you ashamed of your faith? Don’t be. Are you struggling with the idea of being in Christ and trying to fit into the world? Sometimes we won’t fit, and that’s ok. If you need some encouragement from Daniel to be bold, I think he might remind you that God is greater and worth more than anything else in this life. God is greater than any persecution or punishment we might face. God is worth more any reward or treasure this world has to offer. Be bold. Be strong. Be of good courage.
In the following devotions, we are going to discover what happens when God’s people are faithful in the face of persecution.
I believe Lord, help me believe more. I wrestle with fears and insecurities Lord. Help me Holy Spirit to put my fears and insecurities behind me and put Your face before me. Help me Lord to be bold, be strong, and of good courage for You are with me. Less of me and more of You… in the awesome name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.